Normand stumbled across the vast Emerald Desert, his mouth a puckered, dry pit full of sticky teeth and a leather tongue. The flaky, glittering dust-sand made an epic chore of breathing. It got into his eyes a dozen times and cut his whites, irritated him beyond belief. After an hour of trying to watch where he was going, he couldn’t take it anymore. He closed his eyes, pulled his hat down over them, and walked blind.
They had double-crossed him. The sons of bitches. They’d ran with the whole take and left him for the Kingsmen. He still couldn’t believe he’d escaped with nary a scratch. It had been a nasty chase.
He stepped on a rock the size of his head and stumbled, pitching headfirst down a steep slope of shifting green sand. When he finally rolled to a stop at the bottom, Normand rested for a moment, upside-down and exhausted, his feet pointed up the hill. The first thing he did was check his droplegs to see if his father’s gun was still there.
—The Fiddle and the Fire, vol 3 “The Rope and the Riddle”
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